C. Lan Fotopoulos, M.D., is a skilled, respected, experienced and in-demand orthopaedic interventional physiatrist. Dr. Fotopoulos stands among an elite group of orthopaedic physicians whose contribution to the field of orthopedic medicine involves personalized care across all subspecialties in orthopedic medicine using state-of-the-art technologies coupled with the best in patient care.

Q:  I’m experiencing lower back pain that comes with radiating pain down my leg. Is there a treatment available to relieve my pain?

Sciatica is referred to as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg. It is usually caused by some sort of irritation, pinching, or compressions of a nerve located in the lower back. For example, you could be experiencing a herniated disc that is pressing on the nerve which translates to pain and discomfort. The pain typically begins in the lower back and then radiates down one leg. It can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent situation.

“Most lower back pain with sciatica gets better on its own in about three weeks,” expressed Dr. Fotopoulos. “If you are at home and it is not crippling, then with regular activity and time, it should improve.”

The best initial treatments outside of time, per Dr. Fotopoulos, can include non-steroidal medication, rest, and ice. However, he does caution about how much rest one should get and advises no more than three days of bed rest. Otherwise, you remain at an increased risk for a wide range of deleterious physical effects, including, but not necessarily limited to, gastric reflux, constipation, reduction in bone mass, stiff joints, and impairment to other systems within your body.

“More than three days of bed rest is very detrimental,” stated Dr. Fotopoulos. “Regular activity and time usually treat it.”

However, the next best course of therapy if you are not seeing improvement, is physical therapy.

“Physical therapy is the best treatment we have for sciatica,” emphasized Dr. Fotopoulos, who may also recommend epidural steroid injections for the pain.

“For true sciatica, this these injections provide a pretty good outcome,” he continued. “If not, then odds are you are a candidate for surgery.”

Surprisingly, Dr. Fotopoulos indicated about one-third of all 30-year-olds have one degenerative disc and roughly 80% of 80-year-olds have three degenerative discs.

“Degenerative discs are a normal part of the aging process and may not necessarily cause any back pain,” said Dr. Fotopoulos. “Most of the time, back pain is self-limiting, but for sciatica, if it is no better after three weeks, then make an appointment to see me or someone like me.”

Dr. Fotopoulos indicated that when it comes to back pain, however, there are a few red flags of which to be aware:

*If your back hurts at night.

*If you have a history of cancer.

*If you have a cold or fever with back pain, which could indicate infection in the bone.

*If you have pain when lying down.

*If you have a history of trauma, such as a compression fracture from a slip and fall accident.

“These are all reasons to seek medical care, too,” concluded Dr. Fotopoulos.

For more information on Dr. Fotopoulos and Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance please visit 

or call 913-319-7678 ext. 3109